The adoption of the public cloud is not only changing the way IT consumes technology, but it is also changing the way businesses look at real estate. At least, it SHOULD BE.
The most obvious impact of the cloud has been on commercial real estate, and the floor space that was once dedicated to data centers. Most organizations have moved their data centers to collocation facilities or to one of the public cloud providers.
The next impact has been on the floor space that was once a field of cubicles. Employees have been enabled by mobile and wireless technology to work anytime, anywhere, and are no longer relegated to a desk. This trend is allowing business to virtualize the traditional office.
The team at Pinnacle knows this first-hand.
As a “born-in-the-cloud” solution provider, our team has access to all the mobile, wireless, cloud, and collaboration tools that you can possibly think of. But, still, we built-out or first office space, after being in startup mode and working from the café at Wegman’s and the local Panera.
We created an office space that was pretty typical: several offices, a couple conference rooms and a field of cubes. We quickly outgrew this space, but we also found that most of the team gravitated to working together in one of the large conference rooms, rather than their assigned offices or cubes. We experienced a level of collaboration that was not possible when tethered to a desk.
Our next office space was a mixture of offices and conference rooms, but there was a large open area where we placed desks, skipping the rows of cubes.
We had some reservations about working in such an open environment. There are numerous studies about the pros/cons of this type of work arrangement, but we found that it worked surprisingly well. The high level of collaboration continued, with the ability to easily pick up and move to an office space for phone calls and meetings when needed. In this space, we enhanced our collaboration space with a WebEx Board, further enabling the exchange of ideas and driving additional use of video.
This summer we had the opportunity to develop new office space, and we decided that this was the time to apply the economics of the cloud to our new workspace.
We discovered a renovated mill, under development, that is designed to foster a community of creativity and innovation. The mixed-use space has tech companies, artists, food purveyors, and even a brewery! The complex has space ranging from a few hundred square feet to several thousand, giving a business the ability to expand and contract as their needs change, but allowing the business to stay part of the community. Large common areas are available with access to shared conference rooms, quiet areas, and collaboration rooms.
We continued with the open concept in our space but added standup desks and moveable room dividers that allow us to create work areas “on-the-fly.” Because of the flexibility of the space, we were able to actually reduce our overall office footprint while providing even more space for our growing team.
I see all of the LinkedIn posts with pictures of the businesses building these palatial office spaces, and I am surprised at the amount of capital that is still spent on building out these offices. To me, this would be the equivalent of a business building out a data center as part of their new office renovation. You just wouldn’t do it. It is not how businesses consume IT these days and it is not how today’s workforce gets its work done.
Collaboration, mobility, and cloud services are not only changing IT, but they are changing the expectations that employees have of their work environments. Take the leap and embrace the new dynamics of the workplace. It will stop wasted resources on floor space and create an environment that unlocks creativity and accelerates the pace of innovation.